A Travellerspoint blog

January 2006

Wake up in rain forest - go to sleep in Melbourne

The following sequence of events is not really in consistantly chronological order...

sunny 23 °C

Crazy day today...
Woke up bright and early this morning near a place called Sharps track... in a free campground at the base of a 4WD trail, 5km out of Lorne. (much nicer than the night before, which we spent sleeping just off the highway in the wind and rain) At this place it was just me and the germans. No noise from the highways. No drunken Australians. no nothing but trees and some strange sound that I've spent the better part of today immitating to locals, in hopes of figuring out what animal created it... We figured it was a Wombat in heat... jokingly.. althought it sounded like a big cat...an unhappy big cat.. but they don't have big cats here, just farrel cats.... Then one guy I talked told me about panthers that escaped from a travelling circus... he told me the story before I told him about the sounds, BTW) but I think it was really a possum... that is what Pete has told me... he actually immitated a possum - and made the same sound I've been trying to replicate all day- (again, before I asked... psychic Australians or something) So I figure he must be right... just very surprising to me that a little critter like that could make such a ferocious noise....
I am presently at a fellow named Pete's place here in Melbourne... more correctly, Altona - A suburb of Melbourne out on the Werribee line. spent the afternoon and evening exploring around downtown Melbourne.. amazing city.
The train system here is amazing... unbelivable setup they have. trams and locomotive trains streaching all over the city - Map of train and tram lines HERE.. Melbourne is the biggest city I've ever explored on foot, I think... 3.16 million people or so. beautiful multicultural artisian city.
Pete, the guy I'm staying with, I met through couchsurfing.com
I've used couchsurfing in Canada. I've hosted and stayed with people... but this is my first time using it overseas. Excellent experience so far. Free shower! my own bed! set of keys! no rain and bugs biting me! **choirs of angels sing**
You see, it is only two weeks into my journey and I have already assumed the appearence of a wheathered traveller... I have torn my clothes, foregone shoes, become dirty, smelly, bug-bitten and oversunned. I haven't done proper laundry since I was in Canada... and I only packed with me one change of clothes... so yeah. It's nice to have a home base to work from after spending the last week in the rainforest.
Parted ways with the Germans. We spent the last whole week together, exploring all of the little nooks and crannies of the great ocean road. mostly the trails that go up into the woods and things.. most people drive the great ocean road in an afternoon. We streached it into a week. We had so much fun together...good times.
They took up jobs in Lorne, working in a resort kichen. I wanted to keep moving. Sad to split up but a the same time it was also nice to break away and get back to calling my own shots... like my split second decision to skip the $37 V-line bus ride to Melbourne I had planned today, in favor of walking half a mile out of Lorne and sticking out my thumb.
I hitched to Melbourne faster than the bus would have got me here. Got picked up in a Courier van driven by a really cool Aussie guy... we learned heaps (everyone here uses the word 'heaps') of stuff from eachother during the hour or two it took to get to Geelong. I love this style of travelling... no other way would I meet such a diverse spatter of people. Took the train from Geelong to Melbourne.. about an hour or so... And only $7.50... sticking out my thumb saved me $30 today.
But yeah... today has been totally different than the last few days... nice exciting, fresh feeling.... everywhere I go there are new things... lots of new birds here in Melbourne... I found some kind of fruit on a tree... looks like an apple but it's fuzzy on the outside... is horribly bitter and is hollow inside - WTF? and have seen more and different strange fuzzy animals scurrying into the bushes...
I feel more Canadian than ever before...
have only breifly met two Canadians so far... mostly Germans and lots of Aussies... All is well! Canadians are very well liked in this part of the world!
annnyhow. looking into flights to Tasmania. should be cheap. see if it works out in my timeframe here. Should make my decision by tomarrow... Planning on heading back into Melbourne to explore tomarrow... hit up the Victorian market for some good eats... I'll write again soon and get a bunch of photos up here tomarrow probably, while I have the facilities available here...

Posted by fenderson 04:17 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Backpacking adventures with the Germans!

met some really wonderful people down here

rain 18 °C

Hey everybody!
first off - I have survived this leg of my crazy hitchhiking adventure... it has actually been quite wonderful...
So yeah - picking up where I left off - spent the night at a pricey hostel in Port Campbell (that was the last shower I had, now days ago, unless swimming in the ocean counts)- met lots of interesting people, made a time lapse video of the sun sinking into the ocean and all of that fun stuff... then went back out to the highway the next morning to keep on hitching.
While waiting I encountered my firt echidna - funny little hedgehog/porcupine creatures. look them up on the internet if you don't know what they are. Weird little things they are. followed it around until it went too deep into the bush before returning to my hitchpoint.
Waited for no longer than 2 minutes and the "young German couple" from my last entry spotted me on the side of the road and picked me up in their yellow Mitsubishi campervan (his name is Ned) agian! We had lots of fun the day before and were quite happy to see each other again. As a matter of fact, we still have not parted ways. We have toured all around the Otway Nation Park and along the great ocean road as far a Apollo Bay, where we presently are for the day to pick up supplies, get in touch with the outside world, etc.
Bloody amazing journey it has been. Micheal, Rapheala and I have been seeting up free camps in rainforested gullies, national park campgrounds, at the beach...
Stayed at Aire River Crossing the first night after seeing the famous "twelve apostles" which is nothing more than a huge zoo/tourist trap with everyone posing for photos with this popular austalian shorline behind them.... not even thaaat impressive... we saw better going on little adventures... but it was nice to see in person. Saw a few more roos and another echidna, some lizzards and such... hiked a variety of trails before finding this little campground - only 5 other people there of so - down in a cool temperate rainforested gully - bloody beautiful. Cooked up some nice curried rice and such... I met a really interesting local bloke down by the river whilist search for glowworms, which he had never seen in his whole life, but we ended up finding a bunch (both thourally amused by them) and he ended up talking my ear off for a couple hours, informing me of everyhting he could about this part of Australia (I'm in the province of Victoria now) and of Tasmania and Queensland. I taught him as much as I could about Canada and we came to the conclusion that the primary difference between Canada and Australia is that Canada is full of "the big shit that can kill you" and Australia is full of "the little shit that can kill you"..
Good fun. and the rainforest here has a very distinct smell that is highly intoxicating, and I have never smelled anyhign quite like it. I think it comes from a certain white flower that is very common this time of year.
Next day was so bloody hot we didn't feel like doing a thing. What do you do in this country when you feel like doing nothing else? go to the beach!
Johana beach is a nice big streach of sand, with surf as big and dangerous as it gets. Kill you surf. no kidding. so lifegaurds, no swimming signs. we quickly learned why when we went puddling around. The waves are strong enough to knock you off your feet even if they are only waist hieght and the rip tides are so strong that they wash the sand out from beneath your feet so fast that you're a foot shorter by the time each wave goes out. We played around in the waves, running in and out like childeren... every so often a big wave come in, take us for a ride and thourally scare the shit out of us and we'd head back to the sand... come back again, big wave, scare the shit out of us... then decided that living was better than playing in big waves.....
back to our spot on the beach, which was really nice and far up. figured we were safe. everyyhing was good for an hour or so... then out of nowhere, with no warning, a huge wave swept up the beach, turning our basking spot into 6 or 8 inches of water!! we only had a fraction of a second warning - and ended up getting everything soaked... our food, clothes, everything (for some reason I left my digital camera in the car - no idea why) the car key actually got swept nearly back into the ocean. we found them on the shore. lucky stuff!
Later that afernoon we had our oppourtunity to do our good deed for the day, by warning a mother and father who were letting their tiny kids play in the killer surf. We watched them puddling around, completely oblivious to the fact that about 1 in 100 of those waves is 10 times bigger than the rest...the kids got washed away, parents chased after them, retrived them, only to put them back in the water and let them keep playing... we couldn't bear to watch and informed them of our experiance. fortunately for them, they took us seriously.
So that was the beach.
What else. it's really hard to think of the past... I've been so centered on this momement... always something amazing happening...
the last couple days have been spent at a campground called Aire river east. It was Australia day weekend (loooots of drunken Aussies!!) and the kids have their first day of school on monday. But yeah - the campground was full of Koalas! no Koalas in the woods... we only found a few that day, then we pulled up to our campsite (free camping), stepped out of the van and there was a Koala right infront of me. like 10 feet away... throught the two days we stayed, the Koalas were our entertainment... and everyone elses. I even have a piture of a Drunk ourtralian with a beer by a Koala... baby Kolas with their Mum's all kinds of stuff.
Micheal and I caught us dinner last night! sort of... two small Mullens - not bad, in my opinion considering we started out the day with only a spool of fishing line and a sinker... made a hook out of a sewing needle, while I tempered and Aneeled with a campstove (thankouy metalurgy theroy in welding class) made an "army man" float out of a wine bottle cork and an army man I found in the woods while digging for worms. (yes, wee took pictures) You see, Micheal lost all of the corn we had saved from our meal and the grasshoppers we had collected from the grillplate on the van when he fell in the river while carrying our bait... so here we are in the mud, digging for worms and a fisherman comes by... we tell him our sob story and he gives us half his bait pail of prawns... so now we everyhting but fishing liscences.... just kept 6 for fisheirs and parks... and fished away while all of the "real fisherman" and local kids made fun of us. They were just jelous of our army man float... stratergiacally designed to hunt and shoot down the fish. worked decently. Lots of little fish... just chew off the bait in seconds... caught 4 in total.. but two were really small. I caught one this morning, but it was barely bigger than a sardine, so I threw it back.
Yeah... left our Koala ridden campsite after sleeping in the pouring rain last night (my gear is soaked) and fishing for a hour or so also in the rain, (fishing is addictive. I see what it is about now)
Just cooked up some sausages and hashbrowns in the park... my germans had never had hashbrowns before - tonight I'll show them omlettes! After this we're finding a place to shower and then slowly toward Lorne... by tomarrow or the next day. Then we part ways...
Wonderful times.... learning lots about the english languange... lots about how we think as a human collective... lots about how koalas behave, how fish behave.... been dreaming like bloody crazy and try to make at least one plunge into the depths of this beautiful cool temperate rainforest every day.
my time is up. if you made it to the end of the entry, thanks for reading! I appologize for bad spelling/grammer. but these entries empty my pockets as is, at more than $6 each most times!
ok. I'll be in Melbourne by the weekend. Should be meeting some couchsuring people and will beable to upload some pictures!! as I have a couple hundered at least - beautiful ones too!
take care everybody.
my love out to you all!

Posted by fenderson 23:32 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

No idea how to explain this in words...

This place is like something out of Riven...

semi-overcast 20 °C

I don't know where to start....
Summary of events, I guess...
Got out of Adelaide... took the bus threough the Coorong down to the limestone coast, Mt Gambier.
Funny story... Got there after dark. Asked the busdriver where to stay. he reccomended hostels and things... but they were far. I asked about "potentially free places" and he pointed to the hill behind us. said it'd be alright. so I set up camp under a beautiful Eucalyptus tree and made myself at home in the city park. Climbed up a tree and nearly fell asleep under the stars. That was my first real time alone since I left. Beautiful. Perfect.
Spent the next day wandering abuot the town. Lots of fascinating geological sites in Mt. Gambier..(a little geologist rubbing off on me) beautiful Blue lake, a lake in the crater of and old Volcano. lots of sinkholes around there. Took a tour in some Caverns underneath the city. decended about 28 meters under downtown. Used to use them as a garbage dump but decided theyed make a better tourist attraction. Spent the day checking around. lots of beautiful sinkholes and things (some girl just game me two beers - what is not to love about this place?) annny how... Walked 10 km out of town later that evening. no rides. understandable. the sun was going down. Set up Camp along some old abondoned railroad tracks just past the "10km to Mt. Gambier" sign. Exellent nights sleep and up bright I got picked up by a nice elderly coulple. Locals. They drove out of their way to show me the sights along the way, insisted on buying me lunch and took me to the grocery store for supplies before dropping me off at the start of the "great ocean road", just accross the border into the province of Victoria. which I continued to hitch on. Next ride was from a Young local guy, about my age on his way to his Job milking cows at a local farm. He offered me to stay with his family after he was off work but I turned the offer down, in favor of continuing on. Dropped me off into a cloud of pesky flies which stuck to me like glue for the next near half hour... I swatted them, never killing a one (the flies are fast here... and annoying as hell) untill a young german couple picked me up in a really sweet camper van. They were there for the sights too... so we stopped at every viewpoint along the way. wonderful people... drove me to a nice (fly free) drp point - where I caught a snack and continued thumbing until I got picked up by ocal surfer in a Van loaded full of surfboards and gear who was headed for where I was shooting for - Port Campbell, which is where I am presently staying. Beautiful viewpoints here. I can't wait to post photos - which is not often possible at these internet terminals...
That is just a summary of events - happenings... it does not reflect my real experiances of these events with any degree of accuracy - this is where the limitatations of my grasp of the english lauguage and the cost of this internet terminal, leave all you readers in the dark.
What to say in the minutres remaning... The ecology of this coast as compared to the Adeladide area is completely different. First off, it's refreshingly cooler here... about half the temperature. There are some variety of grassland snail which is attached to almost everything along the road, even 50km inland. wierd. Oh - and I saw about a dozen Kangaroos and a few Emus on my busride out here - really funny critters, they are. Lots of funny little furry critters running quickly into the bush as I walk. god knows what they are...
Been meeting lots of locals - all are very fascinatred by me for some reason. Can't say that's not a good thing. Everyone reccomends a few things to check out - so I'm making an average of them all and biding my time accordingly.
All in all, excellent Journey so far. Very hard not to enjoy this coastline. I've tried to photograph it... but even a series of a dozen photos pieced together would not even cover the full scope of these beautifulo limestone cliffs and archways. phenomenal part of the world.
Alright. time is almost up here. and internet acess is exceedingly expensive here, so I should cut it short, although I'm sure I culd ramble on four hours.
I'm thinking of you all back home - but enjoying myself too much to think too much. (that's a really great thing) I'm being safe and all that jazz. I will put up another entry when I have an oppurtunity.

Posted by fenderson 03:06 Archived in Australia Tagged hitchhiking Comments (2)

Gettin' out of the city!

The last entry I put up got butchered

sunny 40 °C

The last entry that went up was not complete.
I wrote the part that you see at an internet cafe and later updated and revised it here at my hostel. The computers here were having problems and apparently the only thing that stayed revised was the title, of my post... my stories and better-thought-out wordings have been lost. *grumble*
Annny how...here is a pale summary followed by the link to my photos:

Yesterday was so hot that a person could have died from exposure in the downtown core of Adelaide. Record breaking temperatures in the area. After I finished that last entry I went out on a trek to find a hostel. I walked for quite a ways, to find a cluster of hosels in a different are of the city... carrying a 45lb pack, . The water coming from my camel back was as hot as tea, a mix of sunblock and sweat dripping down into my eyes. I'm thinking - it's bloody miserable out here... just then, a camper van pulls over. An aussie guy yells out,
"You headed for a hostel or something?" I was, and told him so. "It's bloody miserable out here. hop in. I'll give you a lift" He drove me to the best hostel. brand new. not even in my guide books. He parks and yells across the street, "you got any beds open?" to one of the workers who just stepped out - they did... so I hopped out and checked in to one of the best hostels I have ever stayed in. friendly staff, fun people staying here, air-conditioning (from god, BTW), it's really clean and my discount card works here - oh and no surfers/jocks/frat parties like the other places.
mmm... just finished a tub of "organic biodynamic bush honey & Vanilla yogurt" One thing that I have noticed is that dairy products here are insanely cheap.... like a couple pounds of cheese is only a few dollars... I've been sampling all of specialty local cheeses...as you can get a nice big chunk for a dollar or two at the central market - which is an abolutely phenomenal market place... all of the local farmers with produce stands... breads and veggies, cheeses and meats, seafood, asian foods, everything..
anyway... had a nice airconditioned sleep at this hostel. Acutally needed a light blanket for the fist time since I arrived... it's normally so hot at night that you can't even sleep under a sheet. about 30 degrees at night, it has been.
Stopped by the bus depot and bought my ticket to Mt. Gambier already (VIP discount card saves me 10% on bus tickets - that card has already payed for 1/3 of itself, in less than a week) I have to be there for preboarding in an hour so, I had better go. Figured I'd write while I'm still around civilization... as I have no idea what kind of country I'm going into... That excites me immensely! I can't wait to see what it's like... Should arrive at Mt. Gambier by 9pm tonight. 6.5h.
alright. next post - whenever I can find a place to write.


Posted by fenderson 17:35 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (5)

So much is happening! Where to start?

There is a link to my photo gallery (so far) at the bottom of this entry.

42 °C

Wow. I had to go back and read my last entry to know where this one should begin!

This city is amazing. The buildings are constructed very similarly to Mexico, (here reminds me more of mexico than Canada), the houses are built for the heat. Shiny tin or clay shingled roofs, bricks. Palm trees... and even though the heat is sweltering this time of year, the vegitation is diversified and can be very lush in shady areas...
Spent two nights at the first hostel... Visited the Botanical gardens and the Art gallery, both of which were spectacular. The botanical gardens had specimins from all over this part of the world. Rows and rows of 150 year old fig trees that grow to be enourmous... never seen anything quite like them. And there are more varieties of Eucalyptus (gum trees) than I can count. They are everywhere around here.
The art gallery, which was free admission, featured work of South australians, largely, in the period of the last 200 years or so... There was also a Picasso original sketch, a Matisse, a few Chagalls and a Dahli piece... and a few others that I could hardly tear myself away from... I had just short of an hour to soak it up before the gallery closed.
In the botanical gardens I met another solo traveller, a German guy named Vinzent. We ended up trekking back to my hostel to meet up with Henning and Maki for some pints and fine South Autralian wine, which is cheap and plentiful here. Something like 40% of australia's wine comes out of this small region of S.A.
I have learned alot about the politcal systems, mindsets and traditions of German, Japanese (especially), Norviegian and Swedish peoples as of late... very fascinating stuff...
Any how... we all went our separate ways yesterday... Henning and Maki finding work north of the city in the desert and Vinzent going to Alice springs... but it turns out that we all travelling to New Zealand within about 4 days of eachother, so we have planned to meet up and perhaps rent a vehical or something. see how that comes together.
I decided to head out to the beach... all of the locals reccomend Glenelg (the last 'g' is silent) and I see what all the hype is about. It was beautiful. was also crowded as hell. I had to call a reservation in on a hostel and the beaches were packed with young people. This beach culture is still new to me... having grown up 1200km from the ocean... My Canadian winter skin is slowly taking on some colour. I'd rather slow than straight to red.
Glenelg was nice - but too crowded and too full surfers and ditzy girls... guess some things are universal. I'm looking forward to moving on to less touristy, more backpacker type destinations.
Interesting thing happened at the beach though.
I was sitting for a nice meditation... decided to go for a dip (the ocean is beautifully warm) the water was crowded. I found a nice place to swim near a lady and her kids. She turns and says to me - "I know you. You're from Canada!" she recognized me from the market. I knew who she was once she talked - as she had shared many stories of her travels and was very curious about mine in the 2 minutes or so we had chatted in the market as I was buying veggies for my salad from the stand at which she worked (the central market in Adelaide is fantastic, BTW) and so we sat on the beach and shared stories until it was time for her to get her kids home. Really kind, well travelled, strong Australian woman. good times.
I have decided that I'm headed for Tasmania. It's cooler and more naturish. I want to see the sites along the way, but gear toward Tassie.
I was planning on getting out of the Adelaide today. This city sprawls for many, many miles (one of the largest by land area in Oz) so it will take me a couple hours by bus to be clear of it. I called the bus company and they don't run busses out toward Meningie and Mt. Gambier today. 2:45 tomarrow is the first. This is a route toward Melbourne. Not as quick, but beautiful. It leads to the great ocean road, which I've heard is stunningly beautiful. So far as now, I plan to try my luck hitching it. If I take the bus as far as Mt. Gambier (6.5h), that puts me almost half way to Melbourne and much nearer to the Great Ocean Road. That bus takes me through the wetlands of Coorong National park and all that fun stuff.
So we'll see how that works out.
Alright. I'm just about out of time here... and I have to go try to manifest a place to sleep for this evening.
I'm really looking forward to getting out of the city!
The real adventure is about to begin!
P.S. Check the photos section. not sure how it works but I uploaded a few pics!

Posted by fenderson 03:14 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

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